the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

What I learned

Posted by Jeff Id on June 26, 2011

I doubt I will spend much time on this paper life is short and you have to pick and chose what you will spend your time on.  The thing is complete bunk in my opinion and I can’t believe it was published, but that is what some of the dark corners of climatology bring us these days.The paper is chock-full of unsubstantiable assumptions and layers of bad math including sections with complete dependence on Mann08 but that is only a chunk of the poodo.

In the SI there was a dataset which gave the relative sea level for Carolina (blue line).   The slope of the line pre-960AD is almost exactly 1mm/yr, this extends throughout the trend length.

The red line is the blue line with 1mm/year added in by me for GIA corrections per Kemp’s procedure.  What makes it mildly interesting is Fig 2.

In pane C (the bottom one) we see that sand point comprises all of the record pre-1950.   The sea level rise is stated to be zero mm/year and the correction to the data was stated in the actual paper to be 1mm/year for glacial isostatic adjustment.  In other words, Carolina is sinking at 1mm/year.

After seeing my data in Fig 1 look so flat from to 950, I fit a line to it in excel.  The slope x from -120 AD to 932 AD was  0.0000086 m/year (black line in figure 1) or a 8 mm of change in a thousand years.  We can safely say that if this is correct, sea level didn’t change at all. This IS an astoundingly perfect result considering the confidence intervals shown in pane C of Fig 2 above.  I suppose at least that part fits well with the storyline that Gaia was happy before the humans were.

Noticing that the blade of the hockeystick started earlier than temperatures, I fit a line from 1900-1948 – well before global temps were rising due to CO2 – this is of course due to the magic aerosol correction to models which repressed the warming effects of CO2 from the industrial age.  Unfortunately, I found a 2.3mm/year trend or 115 mm increase before CO2 became an issue.  This is fairly amazing considering that sea level had allegedly stayed so flat for thousands of years prior to the industrial production era AKA, human prosperity.  It is also surprising in that this increase corresponds to 9 inches/century, well beyond any measurements I have read.  The paper recognizes it in the following quote.

GIA-adjusted RSL change from AD 1900 to 2000 in North Carolina (24 ±5 cm) exceeded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR4 estimate for global 20th century rise (17 ± 5 cm), although the uncertainty ranges overlap.

The trend of 240mm/century is outside of the 95% confidence interval for the IPCC.  To those of us with our climatology sea legs, it is no surprise that the result wasn’t terribly concerning as it is on the correct side of results.   I’m not at all sure what “uncertainty ranges overlap” is supposed to mean statistically in this context, perhaps someone with clearer eyesight can explain it.

So what is the anthropogenic story line supposed to be for the paper??

Gaia was minding her happy bird filled existence expecting an eternity of changeless glory

Along came civilization (AD 1000),  and a half quarter meter bump in sea level?

Then came industrialization and CO2 output (1900).

Temperatures were initially unaffected by CO2 because aerosols were cooling the earth and net climate forcing was negligible.

Predicting the future climate forcing, after thousands of years of slumber,

Neptune awoke and the sea level preemptively rose, in warning of future warming doom.

As he predicted, reduced aerosol output was unable to keep up with CO2 forcing and temperatures began to rise,

What followed was melting ice caps, glaciers and thermally expanding ocean volume coincidentally at the same rate as before the warming

in fulfillment of Neptunian scripture.

I have to say folks, I don’t know one thing more about sea level rise than I did before reading this mathematically gross scientific disclosure.  I didn’t even bother pointing out the absolutely goofy quotes in the paper.  It is left to the reader to find those.

20 Responses to “What I learned”

  1. Layman Lurker said

    Jeff, I see the comment on the overlap of uncertainty ranges as straight forward – the lower CI for the Kemp estimate of 24 cm increase is 19 cm and the upper CI for the AR4 estimate of 17 cm increase is 22 cm. Am I missing something?

  2. Jeff Id said


    If there is a greater than 95% chance that AR4 is less than the Kemp trend than by chance alone and a greater than 95% chance that the Kemp trend is greater than AR4 than by chance alone what can we conclude from the fact that the edges of CI’s touch?

    Dunno, but I can conclude that there is a greater than 95% chance that the trends are not in agreement. :D

  3. Layman Lurker said

    I agree. The fact that the CI’s overlap does not take away from the fact that these estimates are not in statistical agreement.

  4. Andrew said

    The Kemp sea level reconstruction doesn’t even seem consistent with Mann’s temp reconstruction.

    It seems to me that detrending the series using just the period pre-960 AD is inappropriate (which is pretty clearly what was basically done). What might it look like if you used the whole thing, or failing that, at least another five hundred years?

  5. Jeff Id said

    I wonder what the odds are that nature caused a 230mm/century increase in sea level just before man caused a 240mm/century increase after thousands of years of allegedly not much change. I also wonder why they don’t mind the problem with the obvious chain stretching in tide gauges of the last century.

  6. The known problems of barrier islands and the adjacent coast preclude the assumptions made. Further, I can’t find the source now, but each sand island from the Gulf to New Jersey is destroyed on an average of 500 years by a hurricane. It also results in massive damage of adjacent coast. The islands and coast are signicantly >50% destroyed on a 50 to 100 year cycle. Also, in many regions with multiple close proximity islands, they progress southward or eastward and are destroyed and created as they travers each 100 to 200 years, with changes in currents, flooding, etc, which would invalidate one or more of the assumptions in this paper.

    This is what I posted at WUWT.

    If you want to read a good short piece on why Mann’s work is without a doubt a work of poor assumptions writ large, ie assumptions that disagree with known science, read the limk. (If it works).,1,Slide 1

  7. timetochooseagain said

    In answer to my own question if one removes the trend from the entire dataset as the “background” rate of rise, one gets this, not nearly as dramatic, sea level curve:

    The background rate I get is about 1.2 mm a year, incidentally. So the results for this reconstruction are very sensitive to the “correction” for background increase in sea level due to “glacial isostatic adjustment”. If it is even slightly greater your hockey stick gets a massive case of scoliosis!:)

  8. kuhnkat said

    Jeff Id,

    “I also wonder why they don’t mind the problem with the obvious chain stretching in tide gauges of the last century.”

    The Climate Science Community has been stretching our chains for years!! 8>)

  9. Geoff Sherrington said

    The paper under discussion can be regarded as an exercise in marginal mathematical assumptions with less than required information on natural events.

    Since first hearing of it, my thoughts went to turbidity currents, well known to sedimentary geologists. They can lead to on-shore disturbances like tsunamis and they would, on probability, sometimes have an effect on nearby tide gauge records, including step changes as the local coastline changed height because of the loss of adjacent sediment.

    There is much literature about these. Kemp at al would need to explain why they did NOT affect their remarkably undisturbed construction before any credibility could be accorded. This is only one natural event of several that could also affect the record.

    Some precise information has been obtained from the clock time of rupture of undersea communication cables off the North American East Coast. Here is but one account from

    Quote. The November 18, 1929, “Grand Banks” Earthquake was a world class event. The Ms = 7.2 event was felt from Labrador to New York City and it triggered what was recognized in 1952 as the first documented turbidity current (underwater landslide). The underwater slump of about 200 cubic kilometres of material moved at speeds of up to 70 km/hr; it cut 12 trans Atlantic telegraph cables and triggered a devastating tsunami, or “tidal wave”. Material in the slump moved some 1,100 kilometres and was redistributed over an area of 150,000 square kilometres on the Sohm Abyssal Plain in the deep ocean; an area 30% greater than the Island of Newfoundland itself. The tsunami, or “tidal wave”, created moved at 400 km/hr south and east to Bermuda and Portugal, and impinged at 140 km/hr on southern Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. It did minor damage in Bermuda and was seen only on tide gauges down the east coast of the United States, in the Azores and in Portugal. End quote.

    Even satellite GRACE would have been able to show a before and after if it had been in the sky.

    Underwater profiling of the ocean floor has shown many features of this type. Their neglect in a paper like that of Kemp et al is scientifically inexcusable. The paper has no mention of the words tsunami, earthquake, slump or turbidity. There would have been hundreds to thousands of these events off the east USA coast in the term referenced in the paper.

  10. Jeff Id said


    And we are the crackpots.

  11. Geoff Sherrington said

    I’ll admit to that without committing you, Jeff.

    Off thread, readers might like to hear the value of the last word. From Lord Monckton on Melbourne radio, after a reference to Adolph re an economist Professor:

    “I was completely in the wrong.

    I should not have said it.

    I have withdrawn it unreservedly.

    I have written to the Professor privately …..

    (In Australia) it is something that can be and is being exploited by everybody from your Prime Minister upwards…..”

  12. Re: Geoff Sherrington (Jun 27 01:34),
    Well, Geoff, he’s had quite a few last words now. Each time the apologies are a bit more unreserved.

  13. Geoff Sherrington said

    Nick, and your evidence is? Let’s hear it from you, chapter and verse.

  14. OK Geoff #13.
    22 June:
    “Let me begin with an unreserved apology. In a recent lecture, I should not have described the opinions of Professor Ross Garnaut, the Australian Government’s climate economist, as “fascist”. I apologize humbly. Will there be similar apologies from those who have called us “climate deniers” or “denialists”, or who say we should be tattooed with our opinions, or imprisoned, or barred from Australia, or tried for “high crimes against humanity”?”

    23 June
    “I have been a very bad Lord. My remarks about Professor Garnaut were unparliamentary and unstatesmanlike. Mea maxima culpa. I have apologized to him unreservedly, and I deserve the criticisms that Anthony and many commentators have posted here. Sorry to you all. I shall try to keep my cool in future. – M of B”

    26 June
    “Climate change sceptic Christopher Monckton says he was catastrophically stupid to compare the prominent Australian economist Ross Garnaut to Adolf Hitler.”

  15. Geoff Sherrington said

    14 Nick, you have selectively quoted. The 27 June comments I made above were only part of a much longer apology on radio 3MTR on the day before, an apology which, had you included it, would have stood your theory on its head.

  16. Geoff #15, I did not hear the 3MTR talk, and I googled your phrases without success. I believe I have quoted fairly, with links, from what is available on the web.

  17. Mark T said

    Ah yes, the famous argument from ignorance rebuttal. “I did not know about the rest therefore I was right.” The proper response would have been “if that is so, then I stand corrected.” But of course, defense of his position even when it has been demonstrated as incorrect is what we have grown to expect from Nick.


  18. No Mark, I read what everyone else can see – the written record. There it is clear that despite some attempted smart comments, Lord M is not winning on this issue. I can’t quote what Geoff heard on the radio, and neither can you.

  19. Mark T said

    Um, that’s why I said “if so” in the first part of the desired response. Rather than admit that maybe you were wrong, you basically said “since I cannot find the information it must not be true.” Argumentum ad ignorantium… you’re really not bright enough to even figure that out?


  20. Mark #19
    “it must not be true”
    Where did I say that?

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